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Barbara Rafferty, Elaine C. Smith and Dorothy Paul


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The guid sisters

Prepare to duck three of Scotland’s sharpest female wits are making a stand at Glasgow‘s Mayfest.

Ann Donald meets Elaine C. Smith, Barbara Rafferty and Dorothy Paul.

icture this. A reunion ofthree of your favourite. most gallus. garrulous. rabble rousing aunties. fuelled by a few bottles of gin and a desire to talk the hind legs off a four-legged animal. with a stream of anecdotes more animated than Walt Disney.

Picture that minus the gin and you’ll have a smidgen of an idea of what it’s like to sit round a table with Elaine C. Smith. Barbara Rafferty. and Dorothy Paul. hearing them discuss the quandaries of being pigeonholed. And of course. plug their respective Mayfest shows Elaine With Attitude and The Glasgow Cir/s.

Having divested themselves of obligatory shades. the three doyennes of Scottish theatre and comedy order refreshments Dorothy delicately describes Elaine‘s camomile tea as ‘cat‘s piss that calms your‘ nerves‘. So begins a circuitous. tangential conversation that takes on the pace of an Olympic squash match as the trio interject. interrupt. overlap and compliment each other with lightning synchronicity and an arresting verbal shorthand.

First. Elaine describes an encounter with Dorothy in Boots the chemist ‘All I could see was the blue anorak. the specs at the end of the nose and this posh Kelvinside accent going: “Huuv yooo goat aeny Slimachoc'.” Then we spin onto Babs‘s Highland encounters on the Hamish Macbeth set. \v‘aring her bohemian black velvet coat that caused much consternation in the village of Plockton. The conversation birls round to a choice impersonation of James Joyce’s daughter. by self-described gay icon Dorothy ‘lt’s me and Doris Day!‘ And so it goes on. boom! boom! boom!

Dorothy: ‘I first saw Babs when she was in Blood Wedding and she sang out to me [cue rising crescendo]. she really just sang out!’

Babs [assuming a Pavarotti pose. complete with mock operatic death throes]: ‘Aaaaah.’

Elaine [deadpan]: "l‘hat bad. eh‘."

The trio dissolve into raucous laughter.

Elaine [with a dramatic flourish]: ‘And they‘ve been lovers ever since!‘ [Communal collapse into paroxysms of laughter]

You get the picture. but let‘s move on to more serious terrain if we can. assembled ladies with

attitude. Recently. Elaine publicly voiced her

concerns about the BBC’s attitude towards employing comedy actresses in serious roles. Referring to her involvement in BBC Scotland’s women-led series of short films Lamhrust‘o Nights. she talks about a five-year battle to get it screened: ‘because they weren‘t set in Greenock

‘The profile we’ve got is never in the leads on TV. It’s always second, third or fourth fiddle, or “character” parts, that you’re especially brought in for. All they see me as is: “Oh yes, she does that Glaswegian thing and the housewives like it”.’

Elaine c. Smith

or by Peter MacDougall.‘ She detects a change in climate since Andrea Calderwood became head ofdrama at BBC Scotland. ‘l’m not saying that the men are sitting round saying: “Let’s plot against the women". especially since Andrea

Calderwood came in. She’s been like a breath of

fresh air.‘

So what is the general consensus?

Babs: ‘lt‘s just that women don‘t come into the equation. There still aren’t enough good roles for women.‘

Elaine: ‘The profile we‘ve got is never in the leads on TV. It's always second. third or fourth

fiddle. or “character” parts. that you‘re especially brought in for. All they see me as is: “Oh yes. she does that Glaswegian thing and the housewives like it".‘

Dorothy: ‘l‘ve lost heart of anyone writing me a sitcom or anything for me. therefore l‘ve specialised in one area and that‘s comedy.‘

For Barbara Rafferty. the most reserved and quietly spoken ofthe trio. it's a slightly different story. As yet. she has avoided being bored into the gallas Glasgow funnywontan slot. ‘l'm not being facetious. but my profile isn‘t as high as Elaine‘s or Dorothy‘s] she says. describing a wide-ranging career from playing lilla opposite Elaine (‘. Smith‘s Mary in BBC Scotland‘s Rah C'. Neshitt. to theatrical roles with Raindog. (‘ommunicado and Edinburgh‘s Royal Lyceum Theatre.

‘Aye she‘s sleckit. Babs.‘ says Elaine. ‘She slips into Hamish Macbeth. then a Joint Byt'ne that‘s why she's working all the time. Ah. but she doesn’t get the money we get!‘

The answer seems to be either to keep your head down. bobbing and weaving between a variety of roles for less cash. or be prepared to set up your own production company and commission others. as lilaine (7. Smith and Dorothy Paul have done.

Before the trio depart to reapply lippy and

mascara for the photo session. lilaine dispenses a few words of wisdom: ‘If all we do standing up there is encourage other women to think: “I could do that“. then that‘s great. because there still aren‘t enough women out there.‘ Elaine With Attitude is at C'utnhernauld Theatre on Monday 2 9 April and at The Old I’raitmarket during May/est, W ’dnesday l—Sunday 5 May and ll’ednesday S-Sunday 12 May. The Glasgow Girls are at The ()/d Fruitmarketfor May/est, Wednesday 15—- Sunday 19 May and Tuesday 2 /— Saturday 25 May.

The List 19 Apr-2 May l99617